Sunday, March 30, 2008


Yippidyfriggindoodah! The trip couldn't come at a more perfect time. For the past few weeks, I feel like i've spent day and night sitting at the computer - writing. It feels like my fingers have morphed into permanent typing position. Good thing the same hand position is used to grab the handlebar!

Usually i don't mind long days at the keyboard because i get playtime on the bike every day. But for as long as i can remember the weather here in belgium has been undeniably wretched! Playtime just isn't the same when you have to step out into a wall of rain, hail, snow and hurricaine-level winds.

Even though the weather in the Ardennes (southern hilly part of belgium - somewhat similar to West Marin, CA) may just as well be as bad as it's been here, at least there will be awesome views! It's going to be tough to have limited internet access for four whole days, but i think it will be a good thing - at least for my fingers! Oh, and they have a TV there so i can continue to watch the big bike races every day this week.

Here are a few photos i took from our last trip to the Ardennes so you know where i'm headed...

Have a great week!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Who LOVES Cyclo-Cross?

I DO, I DO !!!

If you do too, then you will be thrilled to know that the newest issue of Cyclocross Magazine just hit the newsstands. I got my copy recently and it is simply incredible. There are interviews, articles about training, how to help your bike lose weight, to name a few!

This issue also contains a full write-up on Cyclo-Cross nationals - including the winners from each category. It was really fun to read what they had to say about who they are, what they thought of the race, how they prepared for it, tire pressure, training routine, etc. Lots of information in the racers' answers i would have never expected!

Since it is a new magazine, their distribution is limited, but you can go online to order your very own subscription. Your subscriptions will also support them in their efforts to grow as rapidly as possible to increase the awareness to cyclocross as well as bring us more color photos in each issue (color pages are very expensive!)

Oh, and by the way, I am a new columnist for them! Quite fitting, huh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Look what i just found..

a flat tire repair kit made for gals, courtesy of Betty Bike Gear! I've heard of bike parts made for women such as frames, saddles and handlebars. I've even heard of tires made specifically for women (Specialized Bikes makes them.) But this is the first i've heard of a female version of a repair kit. Too cool. Considering I've never owned a car and promote bikes as transportation, this gives me yet one more tool for encouraging other women to commute by bike or go for a joy ride without the token guy in tow for use in emergency repairs. haha.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I didn't actually realize this was Easter weekend until i received a tasteless email from someone intending to wish me a happy holiday. It was a photo of a hunting dog with a dead, mangled rabbit in its mouth. The caption read, "Don't bother looking for the eggs."

Luckily the only other holiday email i got was from my cousin. It included a bunch of trivia bits. Here are some of my favorites:

In the 1400s, a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have 'the rule of thumb.'

Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented It was ruled 'Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden'...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the U.S. Treasury

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...)

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $ 16,400

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser pri nters all have in common?
A. All were invented by women.

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes.
When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... 'goodnight, sleep tight.'

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England , when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.'
It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's'

Many years ago in England , pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cu ps. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 'Wet your whistle' is the phrase inspired by this practice.

At leas t 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!

Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm . Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Yes, i tried to lick my elbow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You can't see it when you're in it

Almost every day at this time of year in Belgium, multitudes of storms sweep through the countryside, taking the sun hostage for just long enough to drop the temperature below freezing.

But unlike all the other days of riding in this rather dismal weather, Jonas and I had a master plan to beat it.

First part of the plan was to stay dry for the first 30 seconds. There is nothing worse than starting a ride in the rain. We sat in the house, fully kitted, helmets donned, waiting for the sun to pop out. After about twenty minutes, sun hit the patio, so we sprinted out the door and onto the bikes. Totally worth the time spent overheating indoors.

The second phase of our plan was to avoid the storms. Shortly after we left the house, we realized this was going to be harder than we envisioned. Our little sunny patch was completely surrounded by a circular wall of storm. Determined to stay dry, we kept our eyes fixed on the skies. Finally an opening. No words spoken, we headed for the exit that should take us to blue skies.

Just as we thought we had outsmarted mother nature, it started to hail on our heads. We never saw it coming. And even when we were in it, we couldn't see it! Thankfully neither one of us had complete faith in our weather navigation skills so we were prepared with rain jackets! I just can't wait until spring!!!

I hear california is enjoying beautiful weather. I hate you all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We ate our way through NYC

It's been over ten years since i lived in NYC. I remember when i wanted to find anything organic or even a single product containing the word soy (other than soy sauce) I had to rely on the 1 1/2 "health food" stores that were more like little closets containing outrageously priced old, droopy veggies and a handful of pills and green shake mixes. Sometimes they'd carry tofu, but usually i had to go down to chinatown to find it.

But what i found in my recent trip there last week was that the whole town's gone plant crazy! There must have been over 100 vegetarian restaurants in Manhattan alone - most of which was vegan. The choices ranged from an amazingly tasty $3.99 buffet at Little Lad's (a family-owned restaurant in the middle of the downtown Wall Street Area) to the more elegant options like Gobo (an Asian-Fusion restaurant located on the Upper East Side.) Since much of the NYC experience is eating the food, we managed to try a few handfuls of restaurants catering specifically to our vegan preferences.

Each day started off with bagels and tofu cream cheese. Mid morning snack consisted of either street pretzels or knishes, lunch was usually some sort of casual vegan dining, then more pretzels, bagels or knishes to hold us over until dinner - another vegan restaurant.

What amazed me more than the sheer number of dining locations for us folks on plant-based diets was the variety of options. We ate all sorts of foods like chinese, ethopian, japanese, soul food in Harlem, vietnamese, american, mexican, indian, italian, granola-crunchy, thai, and middle eastern.

Here are some photos of our dining experiences:

My first NYC pretzel in many years - enjoyed in front of an NYU building

This was the most incredible brownie I have ever eaten. Got it at Teany (Musician Moby's cafe)
Photo below was of the counter.

Japanese food at Mana - upper west side.

Indian Buffet at Chennai Garden - really cheap at $6.95

Little Lad's $3.99 buffet meal and bowl of dessert (fruit covered in granola and an incredible vanilla sauce)

Whole Foods salad costing almost $20 but completely worth it!

Strictly Roots in Harlem (photo below is of restaurant window) I am so used to the California version of vegan (very politically correct) that is was bizarre to spot a woman diner in a full fur coat.

Ethopian - Meskerem (there was so much food - all incredibly tasty - that even I could not clean the plate. I saved the leftovers for bagel topping the next morning.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Back from NYC

I spent the last week visiting my hometown of NYC. Even though it was officially a working trip to meet with many magazines and other media folks, I definitely took time to enjoy all that i love about NYC such as the food, people-watching, museums (ok, well just The Cloisters for the last ten minutes before closing -enough time to sprint over to my favorite piece of art, stare at it for a full three minutes before being escorted out by security), carousel ride in Central Park, and shopping for that elusive pair of perfect jeans.

Aside from time blocks spent nursing the periodic broken bone, head injury or muscle/tendon tear, this was the longest time i've gone without riding a bike. It felt very weird. In a mode of bicycle withdrawal, I found myself visually b-lining to anything passing with two wheels.

Usually i would have to rely on watching messengers - the only cyclists courageous enough to ride in the Big City. But much to my dismay, messenger-spotting was tougher than in years past. With recent advances in email and teleconferencing technology, fewer messengers are needed to meet the lightened demands.

Luckily, as the number of messengers is on the decline, on the rise was recreational cyclists and bicycle commuters. I'd say this is partly due to the increasing number of bicycle lanes found throughout the City, but it's hard to imagine this had any impact considering the cars are not slightly deterred from passing other cars using these lanes or even parking in them. Maybe people have become more adventurous or are looking for alternatives to paying an exorbitant price to drive their two-ton vehicle to work; gas, parking, stress of driving in the city all add up.

I'd have to say i got my biggest bike fix when i visited Morningside Height's Grant's Tomb - the largest tomb in the USA. On a side note, do you remember the joke that spread to every elementary school in the USA, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" Well, I took a photo so every school kid in America who reads this blog will now be prepared with an answer.

In front of the Tomb were a bunch of cyclists, most of whom sported only ONE wheel. It seemed like it was a regular group 'ride.' Can it be considered a ride if they don't go anywhere but rather ride loops of a few feet in diameter? HA! I just saw the irony in that question considering i merely ride circles in cyclo-cross - albeit my circles are a little bigger!

Amongst the one-wheeled vehicles was an abbreviated two-wheeled machine. It was so bizarre looking that i stared at it for quite some time before being distracted by the traditional road racer-types passing in the background, probably heading back from their trip across the George Washington Bridge for their regular weekend pilgrimage to the Runcible Spoon Bakery in Nyack, NY.

I also found my dream bike outside a vegan restaurant in the East Village - it was pastel pink with a huge-ass saddle to accommodate my larger ass i'll have if i continue to snack on street pretzels and knishes, and bagels every day. Instead of stealing the bike, I think i'll hold out for an Ahrens version of the bike. I bet his would be sweet!

I'm out of time to write more, but i plan to write a few more posts on the NYC trip shortly.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wanna know what i'm doing in Belgium?

Click HERE!
The link takes you to a video interview of me created by CTodd. Happy viewing! I hope you are just as entertained as I was.

By the way, I am writing from NYC. The weather has been dry but VERY cold. I expected it would be chilly, but the temperature is consistently lower than it is in belgium. Even with two pants, four sweaters, a tee, vest, neck gator, hat, gloves two pairs of socks and winter jacket, the cold air cuts right through to my bones, making it feel as if there is a long metal rod stapled to my spine.

Many photos to come...